Teacher, lawyer, adventurer, friend for life. Born July 6, 1941, in Toronto, died Sept 11, 2012, in Owen Sound, Ont., of a heart condition, aged 71.
Steve was born in a humble home in Toronto and remained a humble man all his life.
Despite an undistinguished high-school career, he became an elementary-school teacher, including some eye-opening time in a tiny school in Northern Ontario.
After a few years of teaching, he went to law school and eventually to a job developing legal policy at the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. He took great joy in creating signature legislation across a broad spectrum of issues. Among them were the rights of blind persons to be accompanied by their guide dogs in public places; a new regime for the construction industry to assert liens for unpaid work, and the right of people to create powers of attorney to look after their health and property when they become incapable.
Steve brought an inimitable style to his work. Nearly 40 years ago he started riding his bike to the office 11 kilometres each way. As a result, he was a pioneer of “office casual” attire. He loved Tilley clothes, and in the summer often wore Bermuda shorts and socks at work. Furthering his physical fitness, he got a mini-trampoline for his office. Sometimes he held meetings while bouncing up and down on it.
But behind his casual, sometimes off-the-wall, manner was a brilliant and creative legal mind that earned high honours in both the legal profession and the public service.
In many ways, Steve remained a teacher. He had many grand enthusiasms, which he eagerly shared with everyone around. Whether it was the thrill of cross-country skiing or scuba diving, or the writings of Carlos Castaneda, he invited everyone to join his journeys of exploration.
No teaching was more important than what he taught by example to dozens of articling law students about the love of justice and the duty of public service. A great many followed Steve into some form of public service, and many more remained his friends forever. Among those who attended his memorial celebration were his first two law students from 38 years ago, and another who came 2,000 kilometres.
On retirement, Steve and his wife Susan moved to a farm in Flesherton, Ont., a former home of Agnes Macphail, Canada’s first woman member of Parliament. Though they spent winters in Florida or on cruises, they felt very much at home in Grey County with many new interests and good friends.
While the medical verdict may be that Steve died of heart failure, for all who knew him Steve’s heart never failed. He gave it selflessly and completely to everyone he knew and loved. He may be gone, but he is with us always.
Susan Fram is Steve’s wife and Allan Q. Shipley is a friend and former colleague.